The Motive of Dementia in Children's Picturebooks


  • Lala Frančeškin University of Ljubljana



Dementia is the most prevalent neurodegenerative condition, characterized by progressive loss of vulnerable neuron populations in the central nervous system [1]. The clinical symptoms of dementia can be divided into functional, affective, behavioural, and cognitive [2]. With the increasing prevalence of dementia, the number of children in contact with dementia patients is also increasing, affecting them in different ways, yet there is little effort to help children understand the disease in an age-appropriate way [2]. The picturebook is a literary work and a teaching accessory meant for inter-generational reading that helps children learn about problem topics and create a tolerant society, when presenting them in a comprehensive and correct manner [2].

Research Goals and Methods

The goal of my research is to examine the quality of children’s picturebooks depicting the motive of dementia, based on their depiction of the clinical symptoms of dementia and consideration of criteria for a quality picturebook (aesthetic design of language, simplicity, representation of the child’s world of experience, imagination, polyvalence, and cross-writing) [3]. 

Eight literary works were chosen based on a selective search in the COBISS bibliographic system. The criteria were: type of content (picturebook), language (Slovene), target group (children), and key word (dementia). Quality of chosen picturebooks will be analysed using two scoreboards – one assessing the depiction of the clinical symptoms of dementia and based on the work of Sakai et al. (2012) [2], and the other based on the criteria for picturebook analysis [3]. Each correctly and wholly depicted symptom will bring the picturebook one point, the consideration of quality picturebook criteria will be analysed qualitatively, without point assignment, due to the qualitative nature of literary analysis.

Interdisciplinarity and Expected Results

This interdisciplinary work combines the findings and methods from the fields of literary analysis, developmental psychology, and neuroscience to examine the quality of picturebooks with the motive of dementia. Based on previous research in the field [2] I expect that the clinical symptoms of dementia will be depicted insufficiently. I expect that the criteria for a quality picturebook [3] will not be followed thoroughly in most picturebooks.


[1] B. N. Dugger and D. W. Dickson, “Pathology of neurodegenerative diseases,” Cold Spring Harbor Perspectives in Biology, vol. 9, no. 7, 2017.

[2] E. Y. Sakai, B. D. Carpenter and R. E. Rieger, “'What’s wrong with grandma?': Depictions of Alzheimer’s disease in children’s storybooks,” American Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease & Other Dementias, vol. 27, no. 8, 2012.

[3] B. Kümmerling-Meibauer, “Klassiker der Kinder- und Jugendliteratur: Ein Internationales Lexikon. Stuttgart: Metzler, 1999.